Skip to main content
Political Leadership

Public First polling: Delays to net zero make a party less electable

27 October 2023

Based on a survey of 2000 people, Public First have argued that a turn against net zero is a risky political maneuver: by testing different combinations of policy propositions with voters (on the environment and more widely) they found that green investment is one of the most universally popular offers across the electorate, and that whilst anti net-zero sentiment doesn’t move the dial much for those who agree it, for those who oppose it, its a significant vote loser. Public First reports that:

Increased investment in renewable sources and new taxes on the largest polluters in a wider policy platform makes a party 14% more electable

Delaying net zero and continued oil and gas drilling in the North Sea in a wider policy platform makes a party 10% less electable

Voters have genuine questions (and in some cases concerns) about how specific green policies will impact their personal finances and day-to-day lives. These questions should be taken seriously by campaigners and politicians alike to build public support.

But as an electoral strategy, this research shows that reducing net zero ambition, backing away from green investment, and failing to hasten the transition away from fossil fuels are vote losers, rather than winners.

Reference article:

  • Source: Public First
  • Author: Seb Wride
  • Date: 26th October 2023

The latest from the Political Leadership timeline:

Policy Insight 8th April 2024

Green Alliance policy tracker: March 2024 update

The Green Alliance Net Zero policy tracker has monitored government policies since 2020. The March 2024 update compares progress against the emissions pathways set out in the Net Zero Strategy, last updated in 2023. The report concludes that across the whole economy, and for many individual sectors, there is a continued lack of progress on decarbonisation, and adds that ‘strong leadership is missing across the political spectrum’.

Beyond the material threat to decarbonisation this lack of leadership poses, Climate Barometer tracker data is clear that voters want and expect leadership on climate change.

Its absence therefore also undermines policies which require buy-in and acquiescence from the public, including the transition from gas boilers to electrified heat pumps.

Opinion Insight 21st February 2024

ECIU polling: more voters had heard about Labour’s green investment ‘U-turn’ than the policy itself

In the wake of Labour’s announcement that their green investment pledge would be scaled back, the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) commissioned snap polling from Opinium.

Only 14% of people reported being ‘very aware’ of Labour’s (previously) proposed £28 billion a year investment plans. This is worth noting, as a significant amount of debate within green policy circles has focused on this specific number (but most of the public wasn’t aware of it in the first place).

Roughly double the number of people (26%) said they were ‘very aware’ of the decision to reduce the £28 billion pledge, though, suggesting that for a significant number of people, the intense media debate around whether or not Labour would ‘U-turn’ would have been the first time they had encountered the policy.

Read our analysis taking stock of what the policy shift from Labour is likely to have meant to voters here.

View Political Leadership timeline now

Add Feedback